We think healthy living is pretty cool for more reasons than we can count. Among them:
- We’re nerds who say nerdy things like “we think healthy living is pretty cool.”
- Healthy foods never cease to amaze: seaweed noodles, mylk spelt with a ‘Y’ that’s made from nuts, mushroom-infused coffee — what will come next?
- Sometimes the foods we eat — and the lifestyle choices we make — have superpowers.
And when those superpowers include disease prevention — particularly for diseases, like Alzheimer's, that have no cure — the cool factor goes all the way up.
What is Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s is a progressive form of dementia that causes issues with memory, thinking and behavior; it interferes with the ability to perform everyday tasks and can ultimately make people with the disease forget who they (and their loved ones) are. It’s a particularly devastating disease since there is no known cure, but recent research suggests that certain lifestyle choices can prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s.
Work it out.
We know exercise does the body good — but it’s also a solid line of defense for protecting brain health. Regular exercise can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s by up to 50 percent, according to the Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation. A recent UCLA study also suggested the protective brain powers of exercise: Participants who were most physically active reduced protein build-ups that are linked to Alzheimer’s.
In defense of socializing.
This one goes out to all our introverts (or anyone who thinks it feels good to cancel plans): Turns out, socializing is very important for optimal brain function. Research shows that people who are regularly engaged in social interaction maintain their brain vitality better than those who are not. A study by the American Journal of Public Health found that a larger and more active social network significantly reduced the risk of dementia in elderly women.
What you eat matters.
When Alzheimer’s is present, inflammation and insulin resistance inhibit communication between brain cells — which deteriorates cognitive function. The good news: Choosing foods that reduce inflammation can protect your brain by preventing this neurological deterioration. The previously mentioned UCLA study also found that a Mediterranean diet reduced the plaque and protein build-ups that are linked to Alzheimer's.
Staples of the Mediterranean diet include: fruits and vegetables, legumes and beans, whole grains, herbs and spices, nuts and seeds, olive oil, and high-quality seafood. The Mediterranean diet is particularly rich in omega 3s, which have been linked to Alzheimer’s prevention.
As always, it’s easier to prevent than it is to cure — so we’ll count all of the above as reason to embrace food (and lifestyle) as medicine.